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Are You Magnesium Deficient?
Are You Magnesium Deficient?
The Office of Dietary Supplements with the National Institutes of Health informs us that many Americans don’t get the recommended amount of magnesium they need in their diets. Men over age 30 need 420 mg per day and women over age 30 need 320 mg per day (see chart below for complete listing of recommended dietary allowances). African Americans are at higher risk for deficiency than Caucasians, and the elderly are also more prone to deficiency.
The Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University reports that many studies show people over the age of 60 have lower levels of magnesium compared to younger individuals. The Pauling Institute explains that this is because intestinal absorption of magnesium decreases with age, while urinary excretion increases. In addition to the elderly, the Natural Standard database indicates that people who take certain medications, including diuretics, antibiotics and the chemotherapy drug cisplatin, can become magnesium deficient.
Dangers of deficiency
Increasing deficiency means increasing health concerns, because magnesium is critical for so many body functions. The NIH reports that magnesium is necessary for more than 300 different biochemical reactions in the body, ranging from influencing muscles, nerve function and energy production to helping to control blood sugar and blood pressure.
Magnesium deficiency is also associated with an increased risk of a variety of health conditions. In studies published in 2007 in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition and the Journal of Internal Medicine, magnesium deficiency was linked to both heart disease in postmenopausal women and to increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
A lack of magnesium has also been linked to mental health issues. Carolyn Dean, MD, author of The Magnesium Miracle (Ballantine Books, 2006), explains the connection to panic attacks: “Magnesium is an important treatment for panic attacks because it helps calm the body in many different ways. It helps promote muscle relaxation, nervous system balance, proper adrenal function and the production of normal amounts of serotonin,” a neurotransmitter in the brain that helps control mood.
Researchers from the George Eby Research Institute in Texas concluded in a 2010 paper featured in the journal Medical Hypotheses: “Since inadequate brain magnesium appears to reduce serotonin levels, and since antidepressants have been shown to have the action of raising brain magnesium, we further hypothesize that magnesium treatment will be found beneficial for nearly all depressives, not only treatment-resistant depression.”
In The Magnesium Miracle, Dean identifies 22 different health conditions that could be caused by magnesium deficiency. She says everything from asthma to insomnia to tooth decay can be linked to magnesium. “I’ve found magnesium to be such a cornerstone for health that I give supplemental magnesium to all of my clients,” Dean says.
More magnesium, please
Foods rich in magnesium include nuts, legumes, whole grains and vegetables. Almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, spinach and kelp are great choices because they contain high amounts of magnesium. Cooked halibut is also high in magnesium.
A 2003 study featured in the Journal of Nutrition confirmed that taking supplemental magnesium will increase levels in both African American and Caucasian men and women. Multivitamin mineral supplements often contain magnesium, and it is also available as an ingredient in other supplements.
“Taking too much magnesium initially might create a laxative effect you weren’t expecting, giving you the mistaken impression that you are having a bad reaction to the magnesium,” cautions Dean. “I think it’s important to start with a lower dose of 150 to 200 mg and build up to 400 mg once or twice a day.” She explains that magnesium levels will vary in your body, and you may need more during times of stress.
|Recommended Dietary Allowances mg/day|
Source: National Institutes of Health
Karolyn is the publisher of Wellness Times. She is also the publisher of Natural Medicine Journal, a peer-reviewed e-journal for healthcare professionals and open access website. Karolyn has been publishing wellness information for nearly 20 years and is the author or coauthor of several books including her latest book with Dr. Lise Alschuler, Five to Thrive: Your Cutting-Edge Cancer Prevention Plan (Active Interest Media, 2011). She is also the co-host of the Five to Thrive Live! radio show featured on The Cancer Support Network. For more information, visit FivetoThrivePlan.com.
August 30th, 2012